Polo has a bad reputation for being a leisure activity of ultra-wealthy snobs. It's an image that Ty MacCarty, of Horseplay.TV in Littleton, is trying to change. To make the sport more accessible to the masses, MacCarty imagined PoloFest, a music festival/polo tournament headlined by Phantogram, with support from Quinn XCII.
The festival, which will be held in August on the grounds of the Denver Polo Club in Sedalia, will include a kids' tournament in the morning followed by a concert, a women’s tournament followed by another performance, and an open tournament followed by more music.
“We’re trying to change the perception of the sport,” says MacCarty, a former polo player himself. “A lot of people think it’s a big-hat-wearing, high-end event, which sometimes it is, but we’re opening it up by making it more inclusive with the music and casual attire.”
The festival began last year and was headlined by Boombox. This year, MacCarty and his partners have teamed up with AEG's Scott Campell, who will help with booking, promoting and producing the event.
While Campbell has little knowledge of polo outside his trips to Coachella, the world-famous music festival held at the Empire Polo Club in India, California, he is impressed by MacCarty's ambitions for the sport — and the event.
"The site is very beautiful," says Campbell. "It’s a large polo field with the mountains as a backdrop. We think this event will introduce Denver to this site."
MacCarty's long-term goal is to turn the festival into a fundraiser for charitable causes once it gets off the ground and sustains itself. The teams who will be playing this year have all donated money that will go toward the Equine Partnership Program, which MacCarty describes as “a wonderful initiative in the Denver area that is helping underprivileged, abused and neglected children through the interaction with horses.”
The money raised from the event will help fund a barn the EPP plans to build near downtown Denver, where underserved youth will have the opportunity to interact with horses and take advantage of their therapeutic benefits without having to leave the city.
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The wider sport of polo is committed to charity work, notes MacCarty, particularly in Colorado. The Denver Polo Classic, held in Littleton, is billed as the nation's largest charitable polo tournament, with proceeds going to help at-risk children.
PoloFest is a continuation of this tradition, but rather than boasting black-tie affairs and steakhouse dinners like the Classic, the music festival tries to attract a more casual, younger crowd.
“There are so many polo charity events, and I think it’s a cool part of the sport," MacCarty says. "Yes, it's high-action, intense and an extreme sport, but more important, it can do a lot of good for equine welfare and our local communities."
PoloFest, Saturday, August 25, Denver Polo Club, 6359 Airport Road, Sedalia.